How to Grow and Use Culinary Lavenderby Arlene Wright-Correll
Home Farm Herbery
Growing culinary lavender is basically easy and the first step is to know the difference between the several different lavender plants that are available. Though one can use most lavender in cooking there is a difference between all the Lavenders and especially the English Lavender and the best culinary lavender which is referred to as “Munstead” Lavender.
Lavender is a perennial and will grow and thrive in zones 5-11. It likes gravelly soil so if your soil is clay like ours is in South Central Kentucky it has to be amended. At Home Farm Herbery we prefer raised beds for everything and we have Mediterranean herb gardens that we started in 1999. We amended our heavy clay soil with a mixture of gravel, top soil and humus/manure compost with it being ½ bag of top soil, ½ bag of humus/manure compost to every bag of gravel we added. We then mixed well and our beds were about 12 to 16 inches deep and ready for our plants. We never had to touch them since then.
Though lavender can be grown from seed we find the best start is to find a good nursery that sells organic, pesticide-free lavender plants. One can find organic lavender plants from Goodwin Creek Gardens and our favorite is Wild Flower Farm The plants arrive perfectly packaged, swiftly and in excellent condition. Lavender plants are not cheap and one can expect to pay about $10.00 per plant. For a small kitchen or herb garden 2 to 4 plants will give you plenty of culinary flower buds for your own use.
When you first start your beds we recommend setting your plants right after the danger of the last frost for your area. Water them to set well and then remember that Lavender is one of the many herbs that come from the warm and dry Mediterranean area of the world. We started our plants right in the first weeks of September and they made it through the winter very well. They came in 4 inch pots and were about 12 inches tall so we planted them about 4 inches deep and about 18 inches apart.
The following spring we had our first buds and by harvest time we were ready for our first cuttings. We pruned them down to about 8 to 10 inches from the ground, tied the cuttings in bunches and hung them where they could dry out. Once they have dried out one can easily strip the beautiful lavender buds from them for future use in either cooking or crafts. If you intend to use them for crafts we recommend not stripping all of them especially if you intend to sell any of your lavender to crafters since they prefer their lavender still on the stems.
Dried lavender flower buds will keep for a long time providing you store them in an airtight jar in a dark closet or pantry where they will maintain their color and scent for a long time.
Over the years one’s lavender bushes will get quite woody at the base. However, that does not bother them as they come back each spring. They do not need pesticides or chemicals and here at Home Farm Herbery we have pledged ourselves years ago to grow only organic and heirloom plants and seeds and to be a pesticide free property. We feel everyone should consider the same thing. Once pesticides or chemicals are in your ground they will come up through your plants not only to your lavender but into your tomatoes or whatever you are growing. Make sure your seeds are non-hybrid/non-GMO seeds. Once those things are in your plants, they are in your produce and eventually in your stomach and system.
Here at Home Farm Herbery we sell a lot of Lavender flower buds on our internet store and they range from 1 oz. sampler packages and 4 oz. packages to 1 pound packages.
Usually the one pound packages are purchased to make wedding sachets for June brides.
Sewers love to make little quilted pin cushions and fill them with lavender buds.
Yet on the culinary side one can make Lavender sugar, Lavender Pepper,
Lavender Sea Salt rubs for cooking meats and to add to our tea blends and tisanes just as we do here at Home Farm Herbery.
When we used to have a big dog, she had a big bed and we made a pillow that went into it that was filled with lavender buds which she loved as we did also.
One can make their own Herbes de Provence and an essential addition to that herb blend is some lavender buds. You cannot believe what a great thing it will do to a nice homemade tomato sauce or stews.
For those who make or want to make candles or soap then adding lavender flower buds to them is an easy thing and you can find my 3 part candle making series on the internet.
Having a few Lavender plants in your garden is a good bee attraction and bees are needed for any garden.
When all is said and done and you do not want to do any of these things with Lavender buds then just adding Lavender to your gardens or yard will be a pretty site once all those lovely purple or should I says lavender flowers start showing up.
May the Creative Force be with you
Home Farm Herbery
Posted by Arlene @ 11:08 PM CDT